Cable Providers Don’t Provide Much Service: Forrester Research

Customers would rather deal with credit card companies and cell phone operators than their video providers, based on customer experience rankings compiled by Forrester Research Inc.

The best ranked video provider, DirecTV Inc., earned a mediocre “okay” in service from customers. On the Forrester-created scale, the direct-broadcast satellite leader scored an overall consumer experience index of 69 out of a possible 100. The ranking is based on consumer scores for categories including usefulness, ease of use and enjoyableness.

The highest ranked cable provider, Cox Communications Inc., also was rated just okay by consumers, with a score of 63%. Of the seven cable and satellite companies ranked by name, two earned scores that ranked them “very poor” -- Cablevision/Interactive Optimum and Charter Communications Inc. For their parts, Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. were ranked “poor” in the analysis.

Of the nine service sectors measured in the "North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey" for the third quarter, only medical insurance providers were ranked lower for their customer service than cable and DBS providers. The top scorer was the retail sector, followed by investment firms.

Analyst Bruce Temkin concluded the pay TV industry needs a customer service overhaul.

“When it comes to customer experience, these firms should stop benchmarking each other, unless their goal is comparative mediocrity,” he wrote. Cable and DBS need to look outside the industry for best practices to emulate, he added.

The low scores mirror results from other pay television-focused service surveys, which indicate high numbers of customers hanging up with their service problems unresolved.

The survey was based on interviews with 5,000 consumers, addressing their experience with 112 firms in nine industries. Only 10% of the companies tracked in the survey were ranked excellent by consumers.